I have a confession to make…this hat is the only thing I have sewn in 2018! Yes, I know it’s nearly May already but up until a couple of weeks ago I’ve felt less than inspired by my sewing projects and have just wanted to concentrate on my crocheting. If you watched the podcast in my previous post, then you’ll know I have been very busy on that front, so I haven’t just been neglecting my crafting projects entirely. I’ve also been working on home renovation projects, which have also been taking up my time.
At the end of last year Tanith from Tanith Rowan Designs announced a new collection of hat sewing patterns that she had designed, which were available to purchase from her Etsy shop. I instantly took a liking to her Grevillea Beret Pattern, mostly because it looked like a 1920s Tam, and I knew I had to make my own version.
If you’ve never heard of a 1920s Tam before, they were inspired by the Tam O’Shanter – a Scottish beret-like hat for men, often made in wool or felt. However, the 1920s women’s version was, as the Guardian in 1921 noted, “merely a sort of envelope which can be pulled about over an under-structure, the shape of which is all important.” Or put in more simple terms, a flat brim that fits your head and a crown of fabric attached to it that can be draped in multiple ways.
After expressing my interest in the Grevillea Beret on her Instagram account, Tanith got in touch and asked if I would like to test and review the pattern. Of course, I instantly said yes and started plotting what fabric I would use. As it uses such a small amount of fabric I knew I could raid my stash and use something I already had. I very quickly came across a deep blue velvet fabric that I’d had for at least 15 years and had been sat unloved at the bottom of a box. Unfortunately it was a bit crumpled, so I gave it a quick steam first to try and get the fold marks out.
Once I was happy with it, and it had dried, I placed all of the pattern pieces on to the fabric and started cutting. It was at this point that I remembered why I hadn’t used this fabric. If you’ve ever cut velvet you’ll know the pain. Yes, thousands of tiny balls of velvet pile separate from the fabric and go absolutely bloomin’ everywhere! The whole time I was working on this hat I had the handheld vacuum cleaner next to me to catch them all as I went along, which pretty much doubled the time it took to make it.
If I’d done it in not-quite-so-annoying fabric it probably would’ve taken about an hour to make, it’s that simple. All you do is cut out six or eight petal shaped pieces, depending on the version you go for and a long strip for the brim. You then sew the petal pieces together, top-stitch if you wish and then attach the brim and turn it under to hand sew into place. You can add a lining if you wish by cutting the petal shapes out again in a different fabric and placing them, sewn together, inside the hat before stitching the brim on. You then finish with whatever embellishment you wish, such as a central button, and you’ve got yourself a hat! It’s so easy.
I chose to top-stitch my seams into place because velvet is hard to press out without ruining the pile. This was probably the trickiest part because getting right up into the centre with thick velvet isn’t exactly easy. I ended up with a bit of a hole where the petal pieces all joined but this was easily disguised by a large covered button to match. I also chose to line it because I didn’t want the top of my head to be covered with velvet balls every time I took the beret off. Again, I used a scrap of fabric from my stash, which is a vintage spotty silk left over from the bishop sleeve blouse I made a couple of years ago. I think it goes rather well as the spots are the same deep blue and it gives it a lovely clean finish.
So, what’s my verdict on the Tanith Rowan Designs Grevillea Beret? It’s spot on*. It’s a really easy to make pattern with several different versions to chose from. It has lots of instructions and guidelines that even a novice seamstress could follow. It’s a great fun project that’s perfect for using up scraps from your stash and you get a cute wearable beret at the end of it.
I love my version, it’s really got that 1920s Tam look to it and the crown part can be draped in so many ways. The way I’m wearing it here is my favourite look on me, although I do sometimes wear it pulled down on my forehead a bit more if my head is a bit cold. I also oddly prefer it with my natural straight hair, but then I guess that’s a bit more 1920s looking anyway.
*yes, pun intended!
I wanted to do a proper outfit post for this beret, but it really has been utterly impossible to photograph outdoors this winter. Almost every weekend we’ve had dark grey days, rain or snow and, the day I finally managed to get out and photograph this, it decided to start raining just a couple of minutes after going outside. You can even see the spots of water on the beret in the photo above. As velvet isn’t good to wear in the rain, these photos were rather rushed and you only get to see it with the gorgeous deep blue faux fur scarf from Helen Moore that I teamed it with. What you don’t see down below is my 1930s winter plaid jacket, 1930s navy skirt and original 1930s navy shoes, but trust me they all looked gorgeous together. 😊